We all know jaywalking is a dangerous and unnecessary public nuisance that jeopardizes pedestrians and motorists alike. That’s why it’s against the law. But we don’t have to look too far back in history to find examples of laws that were bent or even broken in pursuit of a greater justice. Such was the case with segregation, marriage, or religious freedoms. And such is the case with my right to jaywalk across Market Street as I leave the Sports Barn.
But that right was trampled today as I left the gym and walked directly into oncoming traffic — as I do every morning — and someone actually had the audacity to honk at me! I was stunned. Dumbfounded! Like an innocent doe petrified by oncoming headlights, I just stood there, mouth agape. That’s when the bearded lummox in his filthy pick-up truck rolled down his window and yelled, “Get the fuck out of the way, dumbass.”
As a former resident of both Brooklyn and Seattle, I’m no stranger to rude drivers. But I was shocked — shocked — to see such behavior on display in my quaint little adopted home of Chattanooga. Perhaps if the same encounter had happened on the mean streets of Park Slope, I’d have more quickly countered his claim that I was a “dumbass” by informing him that I actually have a degree from Vassar as well as an exhaustive knowledge of many important social issues. But alas… all I could muster was an indignant huff as I turned my nose up and continued into northbound traffic.
I can only speak for myself, but I know that my workout regimen is exhausting. In addition to jogging and free-weights, I attend hot yoga, flow yoga, power yoga, wellness yoga, yinyasa, AND Cycle45. When I leave the gym, I don’t have the extra energy it takes to walk ten feet to the corner, press the walk button, and wait for my turn in the protected pedestrian crosswalk. Instead, it makes far more sense for me to blindly step into traffic, safe in my knowledge that non-confrontational Chattanoogans will respectfully stop and politely wave back at me as I stroll across all four lanes of downtown’s busiest street.
Jaywalking in front of the Sports Barn isn’t like jaywalking at a rural Wal-Mart or in an urban ghetto. When you see someone like me exit the Sports Barn, you can be completely assured that individual is upstanding citizen of the highest moral order. You can also be fairly confident that individual is a property owner from one of Chattanooga’s three expensive neighborhoods. And since that person is paying the bulk of property taxes used to fund city streets, that person should be allowed to use those streets as he or she sees fit. Oh, if only those words had sprung to my mind as I stood there like a dumbass while the lummox in the truck laid on his horn. All day long, I replayed that encounter in my mind, wishing I could do it again.
Though shaken, I have not been broken. If anything, this experience has only hardened my resolve to jaywalk across Market Street as I leave the Sports Barn. I want to prove to this city that I — along with all the other proud Sports Barn jaywalkers like me — won’t be silenced or shamed or bullied or oppressed by the lummox in his pick-up truck or any other entitled motorist who thinks he has the right to drive his car down Market Street when the light turns green. We will #resist you.